Running back battles to watch prior to Training Camp
Training camp battles are a given, but this season it seems like there is a lot that is up in the air–especially surrounding one of the most volatile positions in all of fantasy football—running backs. In today’s NFL, a committee approach is becoming more and more prevalent drastically hurting fantasy rosters. Before Training Camp officially kicks off at the end of the month, here are a few RB battles I will be keeping my eye on before I draft…
Phillip Lindsay vs Royce Freeman
The way Lindsay performed last season many may be wondering why this is a battle to watch entering Training Camp this year–simple–a change in the Broncos coaching staff. With Vic Fangio, a more defensive-minded head coach at the helm, he will want a ground-n-pound approach. Freeman’s body would hold up more for that scheme. However, it’s clear Lindsay is the more talented runner and will make an impact on both facets of the game (running and receiving).
Prediction: Lindsay is the starting running back, but Freeman steals a lot of his valuable touches including around the goal-line. Think 60-40 split favoring Lindsay.
Aaron Jones vs Jamaal Williams
With new head coach Matt LaFleur coming in, he may have a different way of thinking when it comes to using his running backs–look what he did last season in Tennessee consistently rolling out Dion Lewis instead of Derrick Henry angering many fantasy owners. Will he use one guy? Or will this be a committee approach?
Prediction: A timeshare is used, but Jones receives at least 60-75% of the touches and is the back to own.
Lamar Miller vs D’Onta Foreman
I’ve been hyping D’Onta Foreman as the more talented back on this Texans roster since he came into the league–obviously his Achilles tendon didn’t cooperate causing him to miss most of last season. Miller is what he is and that is a very low end RB2. I expect Miller to start the season as the main back, but Foreman will eventually take his job.
Prediction: Miller to start the season, but Foreman is the better fantasy pick (and value).
Sony Michel vs Damien Harris
I was a big fan of Michel coming into last season despite being in a Patriots backfield that never sticks to one back for an entire season. Going into the draft I figured this season would be different with Michel being the bell cow—well, New England went ahead and drafted my No.1 running back in the entire 2019 NFL Draft–so now what?
Prediction: Michel is the back to own but will frustrate you many weeks due to lack of consistent touches. Harris needs to be handcuffed.
Jordan Howard vs Miles Sanders
The Eagles spent a second-round pick on Sanders and only gave up a sixth-rounder to acquire Howard. I wasn’t a huge fan as most on Sanders in the pre-draft process–but he is the back to own this season.
Prediction: Sanders will receive more touches than Howard and is more valuable this fantasy season.
Kenyan Drake vs Kalen Ballage
It was frustrating how Adam Gase used Kenyan Drake–he was productive but would never get as many touches as he deserved. He is more talented than Ballage and is actually the better third-down/receiving option. With a new coaching staff, will this finally be the time Drake is flirting with RB1 status is fantasy?
Prediction: Drake receives 15-18 touches per game and is a must-start every week.
Tevin Coleman vs Jerick McKinnon vs Matt Breida
One of the more up-in-the-air battles entering Training Camp. The Niners spent money last year on McKinnon only to watch him get hurt before they could give him the reigns. Breida stepped up when called upon, but San Fran went ahead and inked Coleman to a team-friendly contract reuniting him with his old coach Kyle Shanahan. Injuries could affect this battle and should be monitored heavily.
Prediction: Coleman and McKinnon are the two main backs in a 50-50 timeshare with Breida waiting in the wings for one to go down with injury (which is likely).
Chris Carson vs Rashaad Penny
Carson was more effective last year and should begin the season as the starter, but with the Seahawks spending a first-round pick on Penny they will want to see what he can do on the field. Penny started slow last year, but started to find his footing towards the end of the season. This will be a tight race throughout camp.
Prediction: Carson and Penny both need to be rostered and will be in a 60-40 timeshare slightly favoring Carson.
Ronald Jones vs Peyton Barber
Ronald Jones had a bunch of hype heading into his rookie campaign and struggled mightily learning the offense and barely saw the field. Enter Bruce Arians and all is forgotten.
Prediction: Jones is the back to own. End of discussion.
Adrian Peterson vs Derrius Guice
Peterson may not even be with the Redskins if Guice didn’t go down due to injury. You never know how long it will take the former LSU star to get back to 100% after his ACL tear, but at this point in both players careers, it’s obvious who you want to own.
Prediction: Peterson starts the season as the starter but is ineffective and Guice takes over as the bell cow by Week 6.
David Montgomery vs Tarik Cohen vs Mike Davis
Montgomery was one of the most talented backs in the entire NFL Draft and the Bears traded up to grab him in the third-round. That does not automatically mean success, Royce Freeman and Rashaad Penny were supposed to be studs last season and that never panned out. Tarik Cohen is locked in as the third-down/receiving back so Montgomery is battling Mike Davis for first and second-down duties.
Prediction: Montgomery wins the starting job and earns 10-12 touches per game early in the season, a number that will increase as the season wears on.
LeSean McCoy vs Frank Gore vs Devin Singletary vs TJ Yeldon
McCoy lobbied the Bills to sign Frank Gore (which they did) then went ahead and signed TJ Yeldon to a two-year deal while drafting Devin Singletary on Day 2 (third-round) of the NFL Draft. There are rumors McCoy will be traded or cut which is possible, but I would think Yeldon is the one clinging to a roster spot. Either way, this group has stay away written all over it for fantasy this season.
Prediction: Rookie Devin Singletary and veteran Frank Gore lead the Bills in rushing with McCoy traded before the deadline mid-season.